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Mo the X-Factor In South Beach Showdown

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A Daily Babble Production

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade didn't disappoint when they met in Miami last night.  But it was the Cavs' key summer acquisition who came up big to spur a fourth-quarter run that enabled a Cleveland victory.

The Miami Heat outscored Mo Williams in the final period last night, but it wasn't by much.  Early in the fourth quarter, Miami extended its lead to a game-high 11 points courtesy of consecutive baskets by Wade.  The latter would be the last time the Heat scored for more than four minutes.

Williams helped the Cavs begin their climb back by draining a three out on the right wing.  The next two Miami possessions featured two Miami turnovers.  The first one led to Williams feeding LeBron for a dunk.  What followed was a hilariously disastrous timeout attempt by the Heat. 

The term "attempt" is appropriate here because rookie point guard Mario Chalmers sprinted to the sideline and began to yell to indicate that he wanted a timeout.  Thinking his wish had been granted immediately, Chalmers heaved the ball from halfcourt before the whistle blew.  Anderson Varejao caught it, and the play ended with Williams making a direct deposit to the basket from the right corner.  In a span of less than 90 seconds, the point guard had scored six points and dished out an assist en route to cutting an 11-point deficit to three.

On take two, the Heat called timeout successfully, but it didn't do them much good.  After both teams traded turnovers and misses until a Zydrunas Ilgauskas bucket broke the ice, Williams drove the length of the floor and elevated for a runner in traffic as multiple white jerseys rose up to contest.  Pure.  Cleveland took its first lead of the final period, and Erik Spoelstra asked for time yet again.  All told, Williams had sparked a 12-0 run with eight points on three shots.

From there, Cleveland's point guard ceded control to the game's best player for a few minutes.  LeBron James showed off yet another improving facet of his game, his outside shooting.  On consecutive possessions, he effortlessly drained a three-pointer from the left corner and then grabbed a kick-out from Anderson Varejao off an offensive rebound to bang another trey from the left wing.  They were the final two of James' six threes in seven attempts for the evening.  But Miami couldn't keep James from getting inside either, and he drove past Jamario Moon for a thunderous dunk to put the Cavs back up five with 42 seconds to play.

From there, the responsibility returned to the diminutive floor general.  Williams ensured the Cavs didn't have to sweat this one out by knocking down seven of eight free throw attempts in the game's final 33 seconds.  He finished with 17 points for the quarter.  Miami had 18.  The Ilgauskas bucket in the midst of the period marked the only two of Cleveland's 31 points for the frame not scored by Williams or James.

Though Williams' clutch play along with the Cavs' ability to double-team Dwyane Wade on the perimeter and play staunch inteiror defense made the difference at the end, the LBJ-Flash meeting was no doubt the main event for the evening.  James shot the ball accurately from all over the floor, going 13-for-21 from the field and 10-for-10 from the line for 42 points to go with his eight rebounds, four assists and six turnovers. 

Wade made a vague threat towards a rare quintuple-double, going for 41 points, seven boards, nine assists, seven steals and eight turnovers.  He was superb for much of the night and made two excellent defensive plays in the fourth quarter: He knocked the ball away from LeBron from behind in transition and then took the ball away from Delonte West and threw it off the Cleveland guard out of bounds to secure Miami possession while falling out of play.  But down the stretch, the Cavs' second-ranked defense bottled up Wade, using constant double teams to limit him to 2-for-8 shooting in the fourth quarter and coerce him into committing an offensive foul and losing control of his own dribble.

Two of the Association's most valuable players dueled down to the wire last night in South Beach.  But when all was said and done, it was the better team defense and the best supporting cast member on the floor leading their squad to a 107-100 win.